Cronulla on my mind

Had an email the other day:

I just stumbled on an old webpage of yours that mentions Mt Keira, and its significance in Dharawal culture. You go on to describe the story of how Mt Keira and the Five Islands were formed. There’s a suggestion that you had just read about it in a book you had found in Wollongong Library. Would you be able to tell me which book it was?

Well, I did reply. Received another email just now:

Many thanks Neil,

After checking the two PDFs that you suggested, and doing a bit more searching, I was able to find the story in one of Michael Organ’s PDF’s, which gave the source of the story as featuring in the Illawarra Mercury in 1950.

So I think I was able to get to the source of the story that you mentioned in your blog, which has been very helpful to me.

My point of interest was in fact trying to find the origin of “Lilli Pilli” as in the place name, and since it turns up in that story with exactly the same spelling, I was very curious about it.

By the way, I’m sure it will interest you to know that I was a student at Cronulla High School, while you were teaching there, from about 1965 to 1970, although I was never in one of your classes, I remember you as (I think) a member of the English staff, is that right?

Almost right, except that 1969 was my last year. I had a great visit to the school for its 50th anniversary, and a follow-up lunch at Hazelhurst in Gymea. See posts tagged Cronulla.

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Today: the 50th NSW Higher School Certificate!

And I taught the first one! See If the jacarandas are out, the HSC must be coming… and HSC 50 years on.

Sheep Husbandry was not on offer at Cronulla High School where I as a newly minted English teacher fronted what would be the first 3rd Level (i.e. bottom) English Year 11 class in 1966. So strictly speaking this year it is 49 years since that first HSC, which was sat in 1967.

I did return to Cronulla back in 2011. See these posts: How young we were! (and do read the comment thread!) and Here I am at the Cronulla High 50th!

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Revisiting Cronulla High in 2011

See also 2017 HSC written exam timetable and HSC begins for 70,000 NSW students. There were 18,000 in 1967.

Back fifty years…

This death notice came as a shock, but also took me back. Annette Perry, as she was then, was a colleague at Cronulla High School fifty years ago. Later she married another colleague, Lawrie Butterfield. They entered my life again in 1977-78 when I was working in teacher education at Sydney University. Through Annette and Lawrie I became involved in the Balmain Theatre Group at that time. Annette and Lawrie were then living in Rozelle, I in Glebe. As I noted in 2009:  “I was fortunate enough to meet [playwright] Alex Buzo on several occasions, most memorably when I played a Rugby League commentator in his The Roy Murphy Show for the Balmain Theatre Group in 1978.” I note that Lawrie went on to be Principal of the Open High School in Randwick: see (2004) Gift of languages on his tongue and world at his feet. According to Annette’s death notice she was aged 75, living  in Sunbury, Victoria, when she passed away. There is to  be a memorial service in Sydney.

Back to when and where Annette, Lawrie and I first met:

How young we were!

Yes, not all that much older than the class. And a good English class it was too! There’s a present Professor from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and U Sydney in the back row for starters…


Thanks to Marilyn Markham (Berriman) Cronulla High Class of 68. I think that’s her end front row right.

My 1967: Willarong Point, Caringbah

Fifty years on and I don’t look a day older! 😉

See this 2010 post about Cronulla High School:

How young we were!

Posted on May 3, 2010 by Neil

Yes, not all that much older than the class. And a good English class it was too!…

My family rocketed around The Shire in the 60s, for various reasons: see About the Whitfields: Wandering Willie’s Tales.

“Wandering Willie” is a blind fiddler who tells a tale-within-a-tale in Sir Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet, a novel I read for English I at Sydney University when I was 16. Looking back at all the places where I have lived, I find the name apt for myself and for my family. As a feat of memory I tried to recall all the places I had lived, none of them all that far from each other, but certainly many. Here is the result of my attempt:

Sutherland Shire 1943 – 1969

1. 1943-1952 Auburn Street SUTHERLAND
2. 1952-1955 Vermont Street SUTHERLAND (a)
3. 1956-1958 Avery Avenue KIRRAWEE
4. 1959 Box Road, JANNALI
5. 1960-1961 Oyster Bay Road, COMO
6. 1961-1962 Nicholson Parade, CRONULLA
7. 1962-1964 Vermont Street SUTHERLAND (b)
8. 1964-1965 Franklin Road, CRONULLA
9. 1965-1967 Gosport Street, CRONULLA
10. 1967 Willarong Road, CARINGBAH
11. 1968-1969 Woolooware Road, WOOLOOWARE…

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So 1967 saw us for one year in a beautiful spot: Willarong Point in Caringbah South on the Port Hacking River.

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Image: Wiki Commons

I posted the essential details in 2008: Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 4: Cronulla 1961-1962, 1964-1969.

It would take too long to explain why the family moved so much! Add to that mix practice teaching at Cronulla High in 1965, and appointment there 1966-1969, after which my Shire life came to an end, though connections of course continued.

Cronulla

… Marine artist Ron Scobie locates the following painting on Port Hacking. I include it because it reminds me of the house on Willarong Point. Not that we had a yacht, but there was a boat house at the bottom of the garden where I used to sit and read, and in the water just close to shore swim around with scuba and face mask seeing what was what… We rented the house for a year — house sitting really — and it was probably the most beautiful place we ever lived in The Shire. Oddly, Adrian Phoon hales from somewhere rather close…

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Adrian Phoon posted the following on Facebook in December: it is indeed almost exactly what I saw from the house on Willarong Point.

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Revisiting June 2016 – via 1959

A nostalgia hit for me, published yesterday on the Shellharbour Pictures page on Facebook:

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Shellharour with jetty: 1959 My grandfather rebuilt the jetty in 1909. Compare 1934.

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Now to June 2016.

End of June, and looking forward to voting KAOS!

Posted on June 30, 2016 by Neil

Second things first. It appears, as William Bowes’ Poll Bludger indicates, that Mr Turnbull’s party will get back in on 2 July, but with a reduced majority.

Daylight has finally opened between the two parties on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, without quite freeing the Coalition from the risk of a hung parliament.

The Senate should be fun all round.

Bear in mind what is hiding in the basement, should Mr Turnbull get up. The influence of such should be proportionately stronger if Mr Turnbull is weakened.

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Here be monsters!

Following Mr T’s awful warning, if not quite in the spirit it was offered, I am definitely opting for KAOS all round! Exactly how is my business…

Interlude: M of Venice

Posted on June 26, 2016 by Neil

Or rather, M in Venice. One of a set he posted on Facebook on 24 June, though by then he was no longer in Venice. He was in Florence a few days ago.

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Great photo!

Very incomplete personal takes on Brexit

Posted on June 25, 2016 by Neil

“Certainly going to be interesting to see what happens in the UK in this coming week” I wrote here on 21 June. Well, that was a bit understated, eh!

Now I’m wondering if they should be dusting off the Honours of Scotland.

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Perhaps because I am conscious that the greater part of my ancestry derives from Scotland and Ulster (maternal and paternal lines), I still tend to see the UK through that lens.

The Brexit vote showed interesting divisions on those lines.

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See more maps here.

I must admit this aspect rather pleases me: “People gathered in Edinburgh and Glasgow to demonstrate against the result and show support for migrants.” Then there is this:

[Scotland’s First Minister] Ms Sturgeon said: “After a campaign that has been characterised in the rest of the UK by fear and hate, my priority in the days, weeks and months ahead will be to act at all times in the best interests of Scotland and in a way that unites, not divides us.

“Let me be clear about this. Whatever happens as a result of this outcome, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will always be Scotland’s closest neighbours and our best friends – nothing will change that.

“But I want to leave no-one in any doubt about this. I am proud of Scotland and how we voted yesterday.

“We proved that we are a modern, outward looking and inclusive country and we said clearly that we do not want to leave the European Union.

“I am determine to do what it takes to make sure these aspirations are realised.”

Here is a personal take from Edinburgh.

Amelia Baptie, 36, a mother of twins, said she was “heartbroken and devastated” by the result, as were most of the parents she spoke to in the playground.

She said: “I think if it was about hope on the Leave side then some good could come out of it, but it was about hatred.

“I am upset and worried. I don’t know what has happened to England. They have gone so much to the right and Scotland is being pulled along. My parents live in France and they are very worried now if they can stay, and about their income.”

I worry about some of the types in Europe who have been rejoicing about the UK’s choice – the likes of Le Pen and Wilders.

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See Exploring my inner Scot

I really do think we might see another Scottish Independence referendum not far into the future.

Another element in the UK vote was generational. This 21 June article by Chris Cook on BBC foreshadowed that.

A new piece of evidence on this has been released by Populus, a pollster that is doing a lot of work for the Remain camp. Their data suggests:

  • People aged 65 and over are 23% more likely to vote Leave than the average voter. Voters aged 18-24 are 37% more likely to back Remain. Those aged 25-34 are 19% more likely to back Remain than the average voter, the poll suggests
  • Students are 54% more likely to back Remain than the average person. Graduates are 21% more likely. Meanwhile, people with no formal qualifications are 48% more likely to back Leave…

After the event see  ‘What have we done’ – teenage anger over Brexit vote.

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Finally, a different, wider viewpoint: The Long Road to Brexit.

Markets are stunned. Commenters are shocked. But future historians may view this moment as inevitable…

The debate has cut across the usual divisions of Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat. There are left-wing Brexiteers (who dislike the EU for its lack of democracy and enforced economic austerity) and left-wing Remainers (who like its internationalism); right-wing Remainers (who see the EU as a huge market) and right-wing Brexiteers (who see it as an affront to national sovereignty). There has also been a national dimension: The biggest supporters of Brexit have been the English, and now suddenly the Welsh; the Scots and Irish, for different reasons, have taken the opposite view.

The campaign has highlighted differences too among generations, among regions, and perhaps most importantly among classes and among cultures. Supporters of the “Remain” campaign were disproportionately the young, educated middle classes, who saw the EU as both in their interests and as the political equivalent of motherhood and apple pie. Supporters of Brexit were disproportionately older, less educated, and less wealthy, and think their voices are more likely to be heard in an autonomous national state. Attitudes to immigration from the EU — unrestricted under EU law and running at nearly 200,000 per year — became the shibboleth. Remain saw immigration as a token of enlightenment, economic freedom and cosmopolitanism. The “Leave” campaign saw it as a cause of depressed wages, stressed public services, and long-term danger to national identity. The EU question has become more polarized ideologically in Britain than anywhere else in Europe…

Where indeed will it all end?

Post script

Have been reading heaps of posts. This one stands out: Called back to the present by Scottish physician Bob Leckridge, now living in France.

… and Jim Belshaw:

I watched the UK’s Brexit vote first with interest then with fascination and then with a degree of  horror. I was opposed to the original decision to join the EEC, but after forty years membership unpicking the whole thing becomes difficult. Further, the campaign itself and the consequent vote played to and accentuated divides in the UK….

Alas!

Yes, Jim’s post has disappeared! But now it’s back!

And finally…

Look at Steve Cannane, Brexit: Is Scotland brave enough to defy the UK? and Ian Verrender, Brexit will deliver a few home truths, both on ABC.

HSC 50 years on

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Neil

Featured in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

There were no calculators. Cigarettes were puffed on the school oval at lunchtime. One-third of students took French. And the most controversial musical you could study was West Side Story: that was the Higher School Certificate half a century ago.

This year marks 50 years since the first group of students exited the Victorian-era Leaving Certificate and entered the uncharted territory of the HSC after the Wyndham report changed the face of education in NSW.

And also in this year’s HSC Study Guide supplement:

This year marks the HSC’s 50th year. Since 1967, more than 2.3 million students have successfully completed the HSC and used the skills and knowledge gained to embark on the next stage of life at university, TAFE or work.

The HSC has evolved to reflect a constantly changing world, growing from 29 courses to 104 courses with exams. The first HSC included Sheep Husbandry and Farm Mechanics. The 2016 HSC includes Software Design and Development and Information Processes and Technology.

Students today are enrolled in five English, four maths, five science, eight technology, 63 language and 13 Vocational Educational and Training (VET) courses and 27 Life Skills courses…

Sheep Husbandry was not on offer at Cronulla High School where I as a newly minted English teacher fronted what would be the first 3rd Level (i.e. bottom) English Year 11 class in 1966. So strictly speaking this year it is 49 years since that first HSC, which was sat in 1967.

I did return to Cronulla back in 2011. See these posts: How young we were! (and do read the comment thread!) and Here I am at the Cronulla High 50th!

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Revisiting Cronulla High in 2011

See also my 2013 post If the jacarandas are out, the HSC must be coming… and my 2015 post Educational opportunity in Australia – 2015 and 1965.

Orlando

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Neil

There is no way I can hope to do justice to the horrific events that played out at The Pulse in Orlando. Let me first share Sydney’s response.

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See Candlelight vigils held across Australia to honour Orlando shooting victims….